By Kristin McGee
I just recently gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby boy named Timothy. As a professional yoga and Pilates instructor and personal trainer, it’s my job to stay in shape. I worked out throughout my pregnancy, and once the doctor gave me the green light to resume my fitness regimen, I began exercising again after Timothy arrived.
Although I'm a trainer, I'm also human. I can definitely see how difficult it is as a new mom to make sure you get a workout in. Between feeding, changing, bathing, playing and tending to your little one, it can seem almost impossible to do much of anything for yourself, let alone exercise. But exercise is so important, especially for new moms. Working out releases positive endorphins and helps regulate your appetite, sleep and mood. Moms can really benefit from moving their bodies on a daily basis, and the best thing is, you can get a great workout with your child! Exercising with your newborn or infant is a wonderful way to bond with your baby while you get your body back in shape. And the workouts you do for yourself are also benefiting your precious one.
Here are my top three choices for getting back in shape with a baby.
Good: Talk A Walk
Walking with a stroller is a wonderful way to gradually ease back in to exercising. Walking is safe and low-impact, and if you keep a steady pace and your heart rate up, you can burn calories while getting some fresh air. Plus, my little guy loves going outside and walking through the park. As you push the stroller, concentrate on keeping your abdominals engaged and your shoulders pulled together and down (away from your ears), so your abs and arms, and not just your legs, get a good workout.
Timothy is now almost 14 pounds, and let me tell you, holding him and dancing around the living room definitely gets my heart rate up. He loves to listen to music, and I immediately get in a good mood once I turn on some tunes. After dinner you may feel like snacking more or lounging on the couch due to exhaustion from the day, but you’ll feel so much better if you turn on some music and dance away for 20 to 30 minutes. Moving to the music stimulates your baby’s mind and body while blasting the fat away on yours. Dancing is truly an awesome workout.
Best: Mommy and Me Workouts
To really tone and sculpt your muscles (and get back in your skinny jeans after giving birth), strength training is ideal. Muscle burns calories at rest, and as new moms, we need strong muscles to tote our babies and all the gear. You can find Mommy and Me or stroller workout classes in your area, or do moves on your own at home. Your baby makes a great weight, and you can hold him or her in your arms as you do squats, lunges, heel raises and pliés. Or, place your little guy or gal under you and do some "kiss me" push-ups, cat-cow stretches and downward dogs. It's a great way to get back into shape while having a ball with your baby. Timothy especially loves it when I lay him underneath me and do push-ups and rub his tummy with my nose or kiss his forehead.
Be creative, and remember: You're not restricted from exercising now that you’re a new mom. As a matter of fact, you can get a lot of movement in by just taking care of your newborn. Anything you do additionally is a bonus! Congrats on your bundle of joy, and start now to set a good example for your child as a strong, confident mom.